LEXINGTON, Ky. — The game plan might’ve been the same, but the results showed worlds of change.
Kentucky’s defense put a 10-point stranglehold in a win over South Carolina on Saturday night after allowing 44, 45 and 42 in the three games prior.
Maybe the most telling stat of the night for Kentucky’s defense came all the way from Troy, Ala. The Trojans beat New Mexico State in a game that garnered little national interest, but the final score was telling.
Troy, hailing from the Sun Belt, held New Mexico State to 6 points — the same New Mexico State team that hung 42 points on Kentucky the week before.
“You know what, we really had the same game plan as the last three games,” defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said. “We had the same calls we did the first three games. The game plan, it was the players. It was all players.”
The issues in the front seven disappeared and the secondary sealed the back end — at least for a night. South Carolina’s offense hasn’t scored more than 20 points in a game this season, and it’s led by a freshman quarterback behind a leaky offensive line.
All of that means don’t expect the same dominant defense moving forward. But there’s room in between dominant and where the UK defense was before Saturday.
Just last Wednesday, Stoops ripped into his defense after practice. He noted their lapses in concentration and maturity.
“Until we get it changed, we’re gonna have the same darn results that we have in that stadium, which is bull crap,” he said Wednesday.
The results, and his players’ response, were better Saturday.
“I think I could just see it with all of them,” Stoops said. “I really could.”